Police violently disperse NCA peaceful protesters in Harare
By Violet Gonda
26 November 2008
Scores of NCA activists took to the streets of Harare Wednesday, to call for the setting up of a transitional government to address the urgent needs of the population. The activists also want a people driven constitution, that will pave the way for a fresh elections.
The pressure group said 700 people heeded their call to participate in the peaceful protest. Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa said he saw protesters marching from the city’s Nelson Mandela Avenue and Leopold Takawira Avenue, towards parliament. They were singing and holding placards but were violently dispersed by anti riot police when they reached parliament.
NCA Chairperson Dr. Lovemore Madhuku told us several people were seriously injured, while at least two activists were arrested.
After the protesters were forcibly dispersed they regrouped along First Street and started marching towards the Reserve Bank, where they addressed crowds in cash queues and at food outlets.
The demonstrations were supposed to be held in the country’s four other main cities but the NCA says this time around they invited their ‘commanders,’ who mobilise people in other towns, to take part in the Harare demonstration. The pressure group says it will continue holding peaceful protests.
Meanwhile political analyst Professor John Makumbe believes if these protest marches are to have any positive impact, thousands of people have to take to the streets, and not just a few hundred.
Ironically while the NCA activists marched for a better standard of living, most people remained watching from their bank queues. Makumbe said unfortunately people are busy scavenging for food and will not drop everything for street protests, when they feel they have to survive first.
He said: “Secondly the organisers of street demonstrators have to first of all convince the people that it is right to be killed, it is right to be injured, it is right to be locked in a nasty cell in Matapi. And if you don’t convince people mentally along those lines you will not mobilise them.”
The NCA and Women of Zimbabwe Arise have been at the forefront of street protests, but it’s rare to see the general public and other civic groups coming out in solidarity. Professor Makumbe said unfortunately at the moment there is no organisation in Zimbabwe that has been able to successfully convince the masses of a sustainable, non-stop confrontation, against the despotic regime.
He said civil society is lacking the capacity to organise and that the management in spreading information to the public is currently very poor. The outspoken analysts said this is in spite of 13 non governmental organisations coming together recently, to say they will work together, but they have failed to mobilise the people.